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Ireland squeeze past Austria, Croatia beat Iceland

November 12, 2016

A Marcelo Brozovic brace helped Croatia past Iceland in an empty Zagreb stadium, while James McClean secured Ireland's victory over struggling Austria. Elsewhere, Turkey ensured Kosovo's tough start continued.

Kroatien FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifikation Kroatien vs Island Marcelo Brozovic
Image: Getty Images/AFP/STR

Croatia 2 – 0 Iceland

(Brozovic 15, 90+1)

Two Marcelo Brozovic goals were enough for Croatia to ease past Euro 2016 surprise package Iceland in a match played behind closed doors in Zagreb, after a series of racist offences in Euro 2016 qualifying saw Croatian fans banned.

Brozovic fired his side ahead in the 15th minute with a powerful left-footed strike from just outside the box. Iceland missed a string of chances and their profligacy cost them, as the Inter Milan midfielder doubled his tally in injury time.

There was still time for Ivan Perisic to get sent off but it made no difference and Croatia remain in a strong position at the top of the group.

Austria 0 – 1 Republic of Ireland

(McClean 48)

Ireland picked up a crucial three points as a James McClean goal saw them past Austria in Vienna, to make it 10 points from four games for Martin O'Neill's side.

A rare piece of quality in an otherwise scrappy encounter settled the contest. Wes Hoolahan's perfectly-judged through ball found McLean in space just after the interval and the West Brom winger slid the ball through keeper Ramazan Ozcan's legs to give Ireland their first victory over Austria since 1963.

Austria, who created little of note despite dominating the early stages, now have just four points from their four games after a disappointing showing at Euro 2016.

Turkey 2 - 0 Kosovo

(Burak Yilmaz 51, Volkan Sen 55)

Two goals in four second half minutes ensured Kosovo's difficult start to its first major qualifying competition continued but there were signs of progress for the visitors.

Kosovo have scored just once in their four qualifiers but kept a highly-fancied Turkish side at bay for the first half before their resolve was broken. It was, however, a vast improvement on the last time they met Turkey, when Kosovo lost 6 -1 in a 2014 friendly.

Nigeria 3 – 1 Algeria

(Moses 25, 90 +1, Mikel 42 – Bentaleb 67)

In African qualifying, goals from Chelsea pair John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses kept Nigeria on track for qualification with a perfect six points from two games in Group B.

Moses opened the scoring after 25 minutes after being released by Mikel and made the game safe in stoppage time after Mikel had scored the Super Eagles' second and Schlke's Nabil Bentaleb had pulled one back for Algeria.

The visitors were left ruing two wasted clear cut chances in the second half, Riyad Mahrez and Bentaleb the culprits.

mp (AP/DPA)